I went into the kitchen to bake a cake and emerged instead with a salad. I'd been thinking of the cake for a while. It was to be deeply chocolatey and crumbly, and as soon as it was done, I'd stab it viciously with a fork and pour bubbling caramel sauce all over it. It was late evening though, and I was tired, and while descriptions of butter and chocolate were all very well and stabbing cakes is always fun, I found that what I really craved was garlic.
Amma'd gone off blithely for her evening walk and I was left to fend for myself in the kitchen. A rummage through the fridge revealed only a handful of boiled chickpeas that looked rather sorry for themselves. So there was nothing left to do but to play U2 loudly, sing along, and start chopping. I began with the garlic that I started off in cold oil so it would infuse without burning. While that began to bubble, I chopped up a tomato finely and upended that into my wok. It hissed with a fury that only abated when I followed the tomato with chunks of eggplant. Everything got salted and sugared (I'm a big believer in adding a pinch of sugar to everything salty and a pinch of salt to everything sweet. Amma says this practice makes everything I make taste the same. What does she know?) and was then left alone to cook. I chopped up some capsicum and half an onion, then rescued the chickpeas from the fridge and skipped out to the garden for some fresh basil.
By the time I returned, the eggplant chunks were soft and the tomato had lost its integrity and was clinging onto them fiercely. Everything else went in and a few stirs later, it was ready. Now, I don't like to toot my own horn, but man was this slap-your-thigh bang-your-fork good. Even the dog, who hates vegetables like they're made up of postmen, queued up for a taste. He then watched, bright-eyed, as I photographed my cooling bowl, and spent the rest of the evening curled up ingratiatingly under my feet.